Popular Actress Who Worked With Bob Hope And Danced With Fred Astaire Has Died At 101

Actress Janis Paige has a decades long career in Hollywood films and TV shows as well as on Broadway. She danced with Fred Astaire and toured multiple times with Bob Hope. She started acting in her ’20s and kept acting into her ’90s.

Now comes the sad news of Paige’s death. ABC News reports that according to her friend, Stuart Lampert, she died at her home in Los Angeles on June 2, 2024. Her cause of death was natural causes. She was 101 years old.

Paige was born Donna Mae Tjaden but changed her name during her acting career. Her new last name was her grandfather’s name.

Paige’s career began when an MGM scout hired her after seeing her perform at the Hollywood Canteen. She signed a contract with MGM the same day, and the very next day she had a bit part in the film “Bathing Beauty.” That was the end of her career at MGM; however, the same day, she was hired by Warner Bros.

At first, Warner Bros paid her $150 a week, which was a lot for her at that time. In 2018, she told the Hollywood Reporter, “I earned more per week than my mother had made in a month during the Great Depression.”

Warner Bros eventually raised her salary to $1000 a week, and she acted consistently in films including “Two Guys from Milwaukee,” “Wallflower” and “Romance on the High Seas.”

In 1949, her contract with Warner Bros expired, and she also thought her career was over. It was the dawn of television and studios were unloading talent. Paige once said, “It meant I was washed up at 25.”

She wasn’t “washed up,” but she did switch gears. She turned to Broadway and starred in “Remains to Be Seen” and “The Pajama Game.”

Then, in 1957 her career returned to Hollywood and MGM where she acted in “Silk Stockings,” starring opposite Fred Astaire. 

According to IMDB, Paige also acted in multiple TV shows throughout her career including “It’s Always Jan,” “The Red Skeleton Hour,” “Lanigan’s Rabbi,” “All in the Family,” “Eight is Enough,” “Romance Theater,” “Gun Shy,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “General Hospital,” and “Santa Barbara.”

Her most recent on-screen acting credit was in 2001 for an episode of “Family Law,” but that wasn’t the end of her career either. In 2003, she started a stage show called “The Third Act.” It took place at San Francisco’s Plush Room, and during the show, she sang songs from films and shows she acted in and told stories about the people she worked with, including Astaire and Frank Sinatra. Then in 2020, she wrote her autobiography, which is titled, “Reading Between the Lines: A Memoir” where she tells more stories about her career and the famous people she has worked with.

Paige was married three times. Her first marriage was to Frank Martinelli, Jr. in 1947, but that marriage ultimately ended in divorce in 1951. Her second marriage was to Arthur Stander in 1956. That marriage also ended in divorce. Her third and final marriage was to Ray Gilbert in 1962. They remained married until Gilbert’s death in 1976. She never remarried. 

Watch the video below for a look at Paige’s career through the years.